Imitation to Innovation

Wired had an article recently about how China became a tech superpower by moving from imitation to innovation. Many of the observations in the article – especially that about the West being stuck in a perception that all China does is copy Western ideas – ring true.

But, this isn’t an article about technology.

Instead, it is to say that the process of moving from imitation to innovation is a principle that is widely applicable. Jack Welch used to say that copying their competitor’s best ideas was a key part of GE’s ability to innovate. GE’s innovation approach frequently involved copying the best ideas and tweaking them to suit their own style.

It works wonderfully well in personal development as well. Admire how someone stays organized, makes presentations or organizes a team? Copy them. Over time, you’ll figure out your own style.

Innovation is rarely a big leap we need to make. Instead, it is often a series of little steps we take that cause a cumulative step change in results – the first of which is generally imitation.